December 21, 2016
Report Fabric of Slavery:
Large-scale child slavery in Indian spinning mills making yarn for international garment brands
The report Fabric of Slavery exposes the scale on which young girls and women - the majority of which are Dalits or 'outcastes' - are enslaved by employers who withhold their wages or lock them up in company-controlled hostels. They work long hours, face sexual harassment and do not even earn the minimum wage. Gerard Oonk, director of ICN: "We have raised the issue for five years now, but even to us the scale of this problem came as a shock."
Researchers in South India have spoken to workers of 743 spinning mills in Tamil Nadu, almost half of all the mills in the region. The majority of the women working in those mills is between 14 and 18 years old; 10 to 20% is even younger than 14. Almost half of the researched mills have a so called ‘Sumangali Scheme’ where a significant part of worker’s wages is withheld until they have completed their contract.
60 hours a week
An 18-year-old former worker, who injured herself while escaping from a mill by climbing a 3,5 metres high wall says: "I was promised that I could continue my studies, but instead was forced to work for 12 hours in a shift. Supervisors torture girls to extract work beyond their capacity."
In previous reports ICN has looked into spinning mills that supply Western brands such as C&A, Gap, Marks and Spencer, Primark and Walmart. In Fabric of Slavery ICN did not look at specific supply chains, but it is safe to say that yarn from the mills covered in this research is used in supply chains of international garment brands. 30% of the yarn is directly used in south Indian factories producing for export, and at least 20% of the yarn is exported to garment factories in China and Bangladesh. So, while the label in a T-Shirt does not say ‘Made in India’, the yarn might be.
Upscale successful initiatives
Landelijke India Werkgroep - December 21, 2016